-> na -focus in Unit 10
Subject person markersThe simple Akan sentence normally begins with a noun or a noun phrase, which is called the 'subject' of the sentence:
In many cases, the subject is already known. It is not necessary in this case to repeat the noun or the noun phrase; a subject person marker (SPM) will be used in its place:
The SPM forms together with the verb stem a single word characterised by vowel harmony.
Here is the complete set of subject person markers:
Note on tone: The subject person markers referring to the PERSON OR PERSONS TO WHOM THE UTTERANCE IS ADDRESSED - YOU singular and plural - are HIGH-TONED, all other subject person markers are low-toned.
Person markers which are not subjects differ in the following way from the SPM:
Both are different from the SPM (õ and ñ) neà baá "his child"
Note: nyinaáa "all/total of something" takes the PPM:
The structure of the verbShort vs. long verb stems
For practical purposes, it will be useful to distinguish
between short and long verbs. Short verbs are characterised by one-syllable
stems. The stems of long verbs have more than one syllable. The tone patterns
associated with the tenses and aspects vary according to the syllable structure
of the verbs.
Note: Disyllabiverbs carrying a weak second syllable,
such as hþé(nþé) 'see',
follow the tonal pattern of monosyllabiverbs.
Action verbs vs. stative verbsWe will further distinguish between action verbs and stative verbs:
A small number of stems can function alternatively as action and as stative verbs:
Basitenses and aspects
Note: In this section, full tone marking is used.
The present tenses: progressive vs. habitualJust as the English language, Akan action verbs distinguish between a habitual present and a progressive present:
In the habitual, the verb stem follows directly
the subject or SPM.
Note: In everyday conversation, the prefix -reà- tends to be pronounced as a lengthening of the final vowel of the subject or the SPM. The above examples would normally be heard as
replaced by vowel lengthening, ITS LOW TONE IS MAINTAINED ON THE LENGTHENED
PART OF THE VOWEL. Therefore, with this more usual pronunciation, the only
audible difference between the habitual and the progressive is the lengthening,
respectively the low tone on which the lengthened vowel ends.
Present vs. futureThe future tense is expressed by the tense prefix -bñá-. Like the progressive prefix -reà-, it follows the subject and is itself followed by the verb stem. Note, however, that while -reà- always carries Low tone, -bñá- 'future' always has High tone.
Thus we obtain
Note on the first person singular of the future: In the first person singular, the subject person marker meà- and the future prefix -bñá are contracted to mñá-:
Here is the full paradigm for the three tenses/aspects which we have seen in this lesson, shown with the verb baá 'come':
Go on to Notes on grammar 2